I decided to go the lap of luxury route, instead of focusing on the Breakers.
And I found it inspiring to the tune of 540 words. And I don't want to edit, so this week I'm cheating.
No, not really.
I'm returning to Anastasia and her Count Arik. First found here and next here, I'm showing you just how dark her world is.
|Not the Breakers, but a castle in Ireland|
I offer the following in response: Deception Challenge
Edwin smirked. “You believe he’s still interested? You did spurn him.”
Her brother’s proximity made her skin crawl. She hid her reaction by fussing with a floral arrangement. “I did not rebuke him in as much as I presented him a challenge.”
“Still, men do not like to be made the fool. He’s likely to…take…what he wants when next you meet.” His smirk became a badge of pure evil. “If next you meet.”
The fine hairs at the base of her skull rose. Personal experience laced her brother’s words. How many maids had he subdued? She willed her hand free of tremor. Any sign of weakness or fear would cause the tiger lurking in Edwin to pounce, and there were appearances to keep. “Edwin, you mistake my refusal for a child’s misstep. I am well aware of the stakes in this game. Give me a little credit. I am, after all, our father’s daughter.”
He stepped closer, his thigh brushing against her gown. His hot breath fell damp upon her cheek. “Even so, sweet sister, the rules of the game changes with the players.”
She met the acid in his stare. “You will keep your distance, honorable brother, and let this play without your interference. The end result will benefit us all.”
He laughed and kissed her neck. It was a malevolent gesture, not a tender one. As she recoiled, she knocked the vase of flowers off its pedestal. Porcelain shards of ancient tradition shattered across the state floor. Edwin gripped her shoulders and struck her chin, rendering her like the vase, to the mercy of gravity. “Clumsy fool. That will cost you dear I’m afraid.”
“I see the gossipmongers speak the truth of you, Little Lord Dumarche.” The Count of Monteschell, her Arik, stood in the grand doorway of the foyer flanked by the servant that gave him admittance to their estate.
The wild hunger fled Edwin’s eyes. He straightened before turning to face his better. “That I run a tight ship, Arik?”
“I’ll enforce my rank here, if you don’t mind,” Arik was stone.
Anastasia rose in the thickening tension. Edwin rubbed his knuckles. “As you command, Your Grace,” he managed a shallow bow.
“You are dismissed, sir, for my business is with the Lady Dumarche.”
“Your Grace,” Edwin bowed again. Anastasia caught his cold stare as he swaggered up the stairs, an animal to lick his wounded pride in solitude.
“Thank you for your timely intervention, your Grace,” Anastasia touched her tender chin. “But I am more than capable of handling my brother.”
“Clearly.” Arik cocked his head. “I will keep this brief then. I sent you a ring. Why did you return it?”
She fluttered her lashes, “The game, your Grace. Appearances must be maintained.”
“The game?” He heaved a sigh. “I thought you different. Am I wrong?”
“No. I dislike deception.” She looked to the staircase, “But our world is a dangerous one, and I cannot afford to ignore the game.”
He held out the cabochon ring. “Then take this ring. Let there be no games between us.”
The green gem winked in the dim light. Anastasia forgot her pain.